Azerbaijan Organizers Ban Russian Journalist from Euro 2020

A Russian journalist has been banned from covering football’s European Championship by Azerbaijan’s organizing committee over his visits to the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, sparking outrage in Moscow on Wednesday. Nobel Arustamyan, a journalist with Armenian ancestry working for the Russian Match TV station, said Tuesday that Azerbaijan’s organizing committee has denied him accreditation for…

FSB Unit Linked to Navalny Poisoning Targeted Prominent Writer – Investigation

Russian security agents linked to the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny previously poisoned prominent writer and journalist Dmitry Bykov, The Insider news website and Bellingcat investigative outlet reported Wednesday. The latest report follows investigations by The Insider, Bellingcat and CNN claiming that alleged members of an elite Federal Security Service (FSB) chemical-weapons unit trailed…

Russian YouTuber Charged With ‘Justifying Terror’ Over Theater Siege Song

A popular Russian YouTuber has been charged with justifying terrorism over an alleged performance mocking the deadly 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis, investigators announced Wednesday. Yury Khovasnky, 31, who boasts 4.4 million YouTube subscribers, was apprehended at his St. Petersburg apartment Tuesday evening. “Is it because of that song?” Khovansky Khovansky can be heard asking in the…

Belarus Strongman Toughens Protest Laws

Belarusian strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday signed legislation toughening protest laws, raising the stakes of a crackdown following his disputed re-election last year. The measures come into force amid an unprecedented legal sweep of government critics and civil society in the ex-Soviet country following the presidential vote last year that sparked huge demonstrations. The…

Russia Seeks Funding for Putin’s ‘Genetic Database’

The Russian government is seeking to allocate money toward President Vladimir Putin’s national genetic database program, according to recent instructions from Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. Putin, who has sought to transform Russia into a world leader in genetic technologies, ordered in 2020 the creation of a “National Genetic Information Database.”  Mishustin signed a series of orders…

Demand for Private Jets Surges as Rich Russians Skirt Pandemic Rules to Holiday in Europe

Luxury travel company director Yelena Stepnovaya knew she had to act fast when the coronavirus pandemic hit Russia, closing borders and bringing commercial air travel to a virtual standstill.  Along with her colleagues at private charter firm Sirius Aero, she decided to skirt restrictions by offering wealthy Russians individual, or “shuttle” seats on private jets…

Russia Imposes Tit-for-Tat Sanctions on Canadians Over Navalny

Russia on Monday announced tit-for-tat sanctions against nine senior Canadian officials, including the justice minister, following similar measures from Ottawa over the treatment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that the nine Canadians had been banned from entering Russia “for an undetermined period.” The banned Canadians include Justice…

New Coronavirus Spike Grips Siberia – Reports

At least three Siberian regions are reporting an alarming spike in new coronavirus cases, with hospitals near capacity in at least one of those regions, The Siberian Times reported Monday. Authorities in the republic of Buryatia 6,000 kilometers east of Moscow have announced new restrictions after reporting 91% of hospital beds being occupied by Covid-19 patients. …

Russia Seeks to Transform Far North Region Into ‘Carbon-Free Zone’

Russia’s Far North region of Murmansk will become a testing ground for “green” technologies in a bid to achieve carbon neutrality, according to an agreement signed between state innovation corporation Rusnano and regional authorities. The Carbon-Free Zone seeks to test renewable technologies and systems which can later be expanded nationwide, including electric transportation and sustainable…

Russia Deports Ukrainian IT Expert Suspected of Spying – Reports

Russia has deported a Ukrainian information and communications technology expert on suspicion of collaborating with Kiev’s counterintelligence, Interfax reported Monday, citing the Federal Security Service (FSB). The FSB accuses Oleksiy Semenyaka of receiving orders from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). He reportedly confirmed during questioning that he had maintained contacts with and consulted SBU…

Russia Protests as Ukraine Unveils Euro 2020 Uniform

Ukraine provoked Moscow’s ire Sunday as its football federation unveiled Euro 2020 uniforms that feature Russian-annexed Crimea and nationalist slogans. Postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Euro 2020 will be played from June 11 to July 11 across 11 cities including Saint Petersburg. Russia’s second city will host seven matches, including a quarter-final. In a…

Kremlin Critic Dmitry Gudkov Flees to Ukraine

Prominent Kremlin critic and former opposition lawmaker Dmitry Gudkov said on Sunday he had left Russia for Ukraine due to pressure from authorities ahead of the September parliamentary elections.  Gudkov’s departure comes as the Russian opposition says the authorities are stepping up a campaign of intimidation against dissenters and potential challengers, claims the Kremlin has rejected. “I…

Russia’s Pandemic Excess Deaths Climb to 475K

Russia recorded one of its lowest monthly jumps in fatalities since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in April, according to official statistics published Friday. Nationwide deaths from all causes during the month were 14,500 higher — or 9.6% — than during April 2019, data published by the Rosstat federal statistics service showed.  That was…

Scenes From Russia’s Landmark Business Forum

Thousands of business leaders and government officials from both Russia and abroad descended on St. Petersburg this week for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia’s premier business and investment conference. Held for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, officials hailed this year’s event as a return to normal for…

In Quotes: Putin Addresses ‘Russia’s Davos’

Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the country’s business and political elite at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) Friday, where 5,000 had gathered in his home city for what organizers have hailed as the world’s first post-pandemic event of its kind. The forum was staged despite Russia recording around 9,000 new coronavirus infections a…

Moscow Launches University Covid-19 Vaccination Drive

Moscow will launch a coronavirus vaccination drive at universities across the Russian capital, a city official told state media Friday. “We really want to make vaccinations against Covid-19 convenient and comfortable for as many people as possible, therefore we’re regularly updating vaccination points,” Deputy Mayor for Social Development Anastasia Rakova told the government-run Rosiiskaya Gazeta…

Targeting Navalny, Putin Bans Extremist-Linked Election Candidates

President Vladimir Putin signed legislation Friday banning anyone with links to “extremist” organizations from running in elections, a harbinger for jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s team that is awaiting a court ruling to label it “extremist.”  The changes to Russia’s election law prohibit leaders, sponsors and rank-and-file members of “extremist” groups from seeking office for…

Belarus TV Broadcasts Interview With Jailed Activist

Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich, who was arrested after his plane was forced to land in Minsk, appeared on state television Thursday evening in an interview that rights campaigners say was conducted under duress. Looking uncomfortable in the video, Protasevich — the co-founder and former editor of opposition Telegram channel Nexta which coordinated anti-government demonstrations —…

Russia, Belarus Spy Agencies Join Forces Against ‘Destructive’ West

Russia’s and Belarus’ intelligence agencies have joined forces against “destructive” Western activities in the wake of Minsk’s highly criticized plane diversion to arrest a dissident, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) announced Thursday. SVR chief Sergei Naryshkin met his KGB counterpart less than two weeks after Belarusian authorities ordered a European flight to land in…

Uzbeks Weigh Vaccines: Russian vs. Chinese

In late January, as some wealthy countries were opening vaccination clinics, Tashkent resident Rustam Djabborov took to Facebook to make an announcement of his own. A journalist by trade, Djabborov referenced an article he had written a few months before, where he promised to be the first to volunteer for clinical trials if Uzbekistan developed…

Russia To Ditch Dollar From $185Bln Reserve Fund

Russia’s sovereign wealth fund will ditch its holdings in dollars, dramatically increase its holdings of Chinese yuan and invest in gold for the first ever time, Russia’s Finance Ministry said Thursday. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) that Russia’s $186-billion national welfare fund (NWF) would completely divest its $41…